Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has added a veteran cyber prosecutor to his team, filling what has long been a gap in expertise and potentially signaling a recent focus on computer crimes.
Ryan K. Dickey was assigned to Mueller’s team in early November from the Justice Department’s computer crime and intellectual-property section, said a spokesman for the special counsel’s office. He joined 16 other lawyers who are highly respected by their peers but who have come under fire from Republicans wary of some of their political contributions to Democrats.
Dickey’s addition is particularly notable because he is the first publicly known member of the team specializing solely in cyber issues. The others’ expertise is mainly in a variety of white-collar crimes, including fraud, money laundering and public corruption, though Mueller also has appellate specialists and one of the government’s foremost experts in criminal law.
Mueller’s work has long had an important cybersecurity component — central to the probe is Russia’s hacking of Democrats’ emails in an effort to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system and help Trump win. The original FBI counterintelligence probe was launched in part because a Trump campaign adviser was said to have told an Australian diplomat that Russia had emails that could embarrass Democrats, and in July 2016, private Democratic messages thought to have been hacked by Russia began appearing online.
Mueller also is in possession of information from Facebook about politically themed advertisements bought through Russian accounts.
Legal analysts have said that one charge Mueller might pursue would be a conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, if he can demonstrate that members of Trump’s team conspired in Russia’s hacking effort to influence the election.
The fact that Dickey is joining the dream team of lawyers this late in the game seems to indicate that Mueller thinks there is something there relating to the DNC hacking, or some other hacking during the election.